Sunday, 5 September 2010

Preparing Wool

This summer I bought the fleece of a Jacobs sheep called Joy. The image below is not of Joy herself but of a similar Jacobs ewe. I wanted to spin the fleece on my Grandmothers spinning wheel. But I won't have access to it before next year. In the mean time I wanted to wash the fleece and sort it so that it would still be nice in a years time. I understand that there is an argument for keeping lanolin in the fleece. When I was a baby my Grandmother knitted some cloth diaper covers from wool she had spun. For this wool she wanted very much to keep the lanolin in as it made the covers water resistant. My mother even used some special lanolin soap when washing them to keep as much lanolin as possible.

However in this case I want to remove the lanolin. The first reason is that when keeping it lying around for a year I have understood that the lanolin may begin to harden. The other reason is that I want to make a nice-wear jumper for my husband out of it. If I was making a work sweater for him I would keep the lanolin so that it is water resistant.

So how do you go about washing and removing lanolin from a fleece. It's all about high temperatures and minimal abrasion. I have used the following tutorials: Washing Raw Wool by Holly Shaltz and Washing Fleece by Fuzzy Galore. If you want to try this out for your self I would suggest reading these two tutorials. But I would like to share my experience with you first.

  • Not having a top loading washing machine I was forces to use a couple of buckets. I turned the water boiler on and used the kettle to get warm enough temperatures. My thermometer became my best friend.

  • I first lowered the fleece into the water in some washing nets. But I found that the water did not get through the fleece that way. So I began to dunk the fleece into the buckets without the net.

  • I wash using about 5 buckets of water. The first with lots of dish washing liquid and water at 70 degrees Celsius. The second with a bit of dish washing liquid (I used Ecover) and 60 degree Celsius water. The third and fourth with just water at 50 degrees and the last at 40 degrees.

  • I found another use for the lingerie nets I bought. I put a bit of the fleece in a net and swung it out in the garden like you would with a salad bag. It was a great way of getting the water out of the fleece without abrasion.

  • I then laid the fleece out to dry on an old towel and turned it once in a while. It took on average 24-48 hours to dry through.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you for stopping by - I would love to hear your thoughts on this post :-)